Snecma Services may establish a full engine test bench in the USA as an airline joint venture, as it seeks to increase its CFM International CFM56 maintenance world market share from 15% to 20%. General Electric, Snecma's long-term partner in CFM International, has announced it could take up to 10% of Snecma on its privatisation in February 2004 (Flight International, 25 November-1 December).

Apart from a joint venture between GE and Snecma for US Airways' CFM56 maintenance, GE Engine Services (GEES), a division of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based manufacturer, has a monopoly on overhauling the engine type in the USA, holding contracts with Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines, Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines, among others.

Snecma Services chief executive Marc Ventre says several of GEES's contracts expire between 2005 and 2007. He is keen to reach these customers as they become available. Snecma Services and GEES compete to service CFM56s, even though manufacturer CFMI is a 50:50 joint venture between the two companies' parents. Ventre says that for the French CFM56 and General Electric GE90 service provider to be competitive in the US market it "must have full engine repair facilities in the USA, including a test bench".

But the $20-25 million investment required is too much for Snecma alone, and Ventre says he would prefer a joint venture with a North American airline seeking to outsource maintenance. "Companies such as Air Canada, American [Airlines], Delta [Air Lines] and United [Airlines] all have strong in-house maintenance activity and these are all companies that are in financial trouble," says Ventre. He says Snecma would be interested in buying one of these airlines' maintenance centres "as long as it was coupled with a maintenance contract".

Snecma Services has a parts repair centre and a marketing office in Miami, Florida; a GE90 repair contract with Continental Airlines; and CFM56 repair contracts with several North American carriers.

Source: Flight International